Halftime Report: Favorite Reads of 2013 Thus Far


July 3, 2013 by Heidi

On Audio

Halftime Top Audio

The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey | Narrated by Steven Boyer

You might have seen me go off about how much I adored this one in my June Rewind vlog, because dear lord it was good.  The narrator, Steven Boyer, instantly made his way onto my ‘listen to anything they narrate’ list, and I immediately scrambled to track down audio for the next two books in the series.  Filled with horrific imagerey and a rich prose that brings you to New Jerusalem and those cold men who abide there, The Monstrumologist held surprising emotions, and also boasted my new favorite character–Jack Kearnes.  A man I love to read about, but never want to meet.

Iron Kissed by Patricia Briggs | Narrated by Lorelei King

It took me a bit of time to grow accustomed to Lorelei King’s narration of the Mercedes Thompson series, but once I did there was no going back.  In fact, I’m stalled after book three because my library has no copies of book 4 on audio and I’m holding out hope for an Audible membership for my birthday.  Iron Kissed was an emotional gut punch in a way I didn’t realize the urban fantasy genre was capable of.  Briggs deals expertly with the topic of sexual assault and survival, and let me just say, made me a massive fan of Ben.

The Betrayal of the Blood Lily by Lauren Willig | Narrated by Kate Reading

After devouring nine books in this series on audio in a few short months, it was difficult to choose one favorite among them, but The Betrayal of the Blood Lily (#6) is at least tied for that position with The Deception of the Emerald Ring (#3) and The Orchid Affair (#8).  If you’re looking for a smart, fun, literary historical set of romantic romps, please do yourself a favor and pick up this series.  Oh…but I do have to admit to not liking the contemporary parts of these books whatsoever (there is a frame story).  I um…skip them.  Started doing so in book 3 and never looked back.  However, Kate Reading’s incredible ease with accents makes the audio wonderfully atmospheric, and highly recommended.

The Freedom Maze by Delia Sherman | Narrated by Robin Miles | My Review

I’d wanted to read The Freedom Maze since I began hearing wonderful things about it in 2012, and thankfully, it was nominated for an Audie award or I might have missed this stunning audio production.  Set in two times with stirrings of cultural magnitude–just before the Civil War and just before the full swing of the Civil Rights movement–The Freedom Maze encompasses an astounding coming of age story paired with a deep understanding and discussion of what it means, and what it should mean, to be black or white.

In PrintHalftime Top Reads

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer | My Review

You’ve all read it, and if you haven’t, what are you waiting for?  Not even me–Miss. I don’t read series until they’re all out because I can’t stand waiting (at least that’s my maiden name, I’m dearly hoping to shorten it someday)–can wait on this one.  Yes, it’s better than the first.  Yes, it has a Mal-Captain Jack-Han Solo esque character in the part of Thorne (my other favorite character of the year besides Jack Kearne).  And can any of you pass up a good wolf boy?  I know I can’t.

Sacred Scars by Kathleen Duey

I am so utterly, completely in love (and tatters) over this series.  Read in January, it still holds frequent power over my mind and heart as I churn in an endless cycle of worry and hope for my dear Sadima and Haph.  I have been known to eagerly await Kathleen Duey’s little crumbs of updates on the progress of book three.  If you loved Harry Potter, but also love the darker, deeper side of things–the questions about human nature and a very subtle but potentially powerful feminist themes–pick up The Ressurection of Magic series.

The Hollow Kindgom by Clare B. Dunkle | My Review

This middle grade retelling of The Beauty and the Beast sucked me in from the first pages.  And those aren’t even about the main character.  I loved this story.  Sure, it’s lacking a bit of emotional depth, largely as a result of the age group it’s aimed at, but that didn’t keep me from handing it all my feels.  While yes, there is a romance there, The Hollow Kingdom is much more a coming of age story about one girl who learns the power of perception and importance of making one’s place.

Through the Ever Night by Veronica Rossi | My Review

If you had told me from the premise of this series that I would come to adore it as I have, I would have been quite surprised.  But I do.  Veronica Rossi weilds the power of character in a way that makes you care so deeply not only for her main perspectives, Perry and Aria, but for all those people who are in their lives.  I often love secondary characters more than the first, but here is a rare circumstance where they are all on a level.  I want desperately happiness for them all.

Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys | My Review

I’ve been too emotionally scared to pick up Sepetys’ Between Shades of Gray for years now, but after reading Out of the Easy that book has become an eventuality for me.  Ruta Sepetys creates in Out of the Easy a striking blend of character and setting, pulling me into the French Quarter of 1950s New Orleans.  It shows the kind side of shady and the cruel side of propriety, all through the eyes of one girl smart enough to want to get out.

Ashes of Honor by Seanan McGuire

All’s I have to say about this sixth installment of the October Daye series is, thank goodness it was released by the time I got there.  If I had had to wait as long as those poor readers who were with Seanan from the beginning, I may have withered up and died in my longing for more Tybalt.  And this one finally has more Tybalt.  But of course that isn’t all, there’s also now a comfortable knowledge of what Toby has become in her power and person, and a desperate attempt to save Fairie from collapsing.  I’m actually getting worried about where Seanan McGuire’s going to go from here–how much bigger can we get?


Halftime Top To Come

The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

Yup, fawned all over this one in my June Rewind as well.  Oh Maggie, how could I have doubted you?  I was so put out after last year’s The Raven Boys.  It wasn’t bad, but where was that Maggie Stiefvater I fell for in The Scorpio Races?  Silly me, she was here all along, and The Dream Thieves exemplifies that extensively.  With a shifted focus, rearranged feelings, and of course–all the love for Ronan, this second installment to The Raven Cycle was so much more than I’d hoped for.

Antigoddess by Kendare Blake

Blake has found her stride in Antigoddess, a book that really shows her growth as an author.  Yeah, she started out awesome with Anna Dressed in Blood, but here she’s really perfected that balance of horror and characterization that made Antigoddess impossible to put down.  The imagery she conveys had my chest tickling and pained, and my mind full of barnacles and crazy.  Blake takes the groundwork set down by The Illiad and The Odyssey and decides to shake things up in a way I could totally buy.  When it comes to modernizations of the gods, I really couldn’t ask for more.

The Bitter Kindgom by Rae Carson

One of the best trilogy endings in recent memory.  I loved this series from start to finish, and there really wasn’t a weak point; The Bitter Kingdom in no way disappoints. In this final book we get to see Elisa truly come into her own and be something more than the chosen one.  This is why I adored this series, despite my general distaste for the chosen one trope, because Elisa is more than that.  She is a leader in her own right, and has the power to do all she does despite her position as a bearer.  Oh, and to all of you who have been waiting since book two came out?  I commend you–I couldn’t have done it.  But it will be worth it!


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  1. Emily says:

    That Resurrection of Magic series sounds great – I’ll definitely have to check it out! I might co-opt this blog topic as well if you don’t mind – what a great one!

    • Heidi says:

      Of course you’re welcome to! I’ve really enjoyed reading many people’s favorite reads of the year thus far–it’s helped me prioritize what I need to read by the end of the year!

  2. Angie says:

    “Briggs deals expertly with the topic of sexual assault and survival, and let me just say, made me a massive fan of Ben.”

    I am a massive, MASSIVE fan of Ben.

  3. I love this list! As you know already, I’ve read and completely agree with you on so many of these titles, from Mercy Thompson to Through the Ever Night and The Bitter Kingdom. I’m really looking forward to reading Duey’s work sometime in the near future, not to mention I finally just succumbed to my impatience and checked out the entire Monstrumologist Trilogy, though not in audio. I can’t wait to start! Wonderful list, Heidi. :)

    • Heidi says:

      Yes! There have been so many insanely good books so far this year. I’m pretty jealous that you’re all caught up on Mercy. I just started the second Monstrumologist book this morning! Not far enough in to tell yet, but I have a feeling I’ll love it as much as the first.

  4. SCARLET–100% agreed! So amazing and better and boys and yes. :) A MG B&B? OMG, I am IN. Thank you! Did you read the MG novel THE PRINCESS CURSE by Merrie Haskell? Love it! I am not allowed to read the Rossi books until all 3 are out. I was supposed to get one from BEA when I stood in line and just missed out, but never heard back from Harper :( Hmm, are Stiefvater’s books cliffies? I have the first one and an e-ARC of the second, but I know there will be four… I still need to read my copy of ANTIGODDESS. Can’t wait! And what a cover! BITTER KINGDOM, *yes.* So, so good. I was so sad when it was all over. So glad we’re getting Hector’s story in a couple of weeks! And…I have been waiting since book ONE. lol!

    I’m with you on waiting for things! Obv. *points at Rossi* For this reason, I’m waiting on Game of Thrones. Also, my memory is bad and I forget a lot. So, for example, while I was DYING for the next books after reading DEITY by Jennifer Armentrout and THE PLEDGE by Kimberly Derting and LEGEND by Marie Lu and have the sequels sitting at my bedside, at this point…the final book isn’t that far off. I have to re-read then anyway, so I might as well wait. Right? lol!

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While the source for each book I review is posted within its review, please assume unless otherwise stated that books reviewed on Bunbury in the Stacks were received free from the author or publisher in exchange for an honest review.